Crossing the Red Line: A Blood Donation Newbie’s First Time

I couldn’t look down at the tube of blood wrapped around my forearm because I knew I wouldn’t return if I did. I didn’t need to know the mechanics of it. I just needed to trust the process.

Following Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico last year, a cherished friend and roommate invited me to support recovery efforts by donating blood for the victims. I had another roommate years ago who donated every six months. Learning this about her made me think she was noble and strange. I would later discover that she left an impression on me because the moment I was personally asked, I thought of her and cautiously agreed.

That Saturday, we drove to a church attended by a large population of Puerto Ricans on the other side of town. The congregation had mobilized 200 or so volunteers to pack much-needed supplies and load them on to trucks. A OneBlood donation bus was parked outside and a woman with a clipboard took down the names of people wanting to contribute. We wrote ours in the margins of her sheet wherever we could find space and she estimated we’d wait an hour.

I wish I could say I felt particularly giving or noble this morning but I didn’t at all. I side-eyed my friend and started testing the waters on how seriously we were committed to doing this instead. After all, she had driven. To the luck of those who would receive our transfusions, she was a far more selfless human than I was in that moment and shrugged off the inconvenience. We returned to her car to sit. An hour turned into two which turned into three and then four. Finally around mid-afternoon, two slots opened up when the people scheduled became no-shows. She and I were in.

We filled out some documentation on the iPad handed to us and relaxed into our designated seats. The inside of the bus resembled a camper-sized ambulance or a doctor’s office in a box. My forearm was cleaned and the attending nurse inserted a needle connected to a hose leading to a pint-sized bag. They tell you to drink a lot of water and eat foods high in sugar before you donate but they don’t tell you how unfamiliar the strain will feel on your veins. As I sat flowing, I became acutely aware of my body and the underacknowledged miracles it performs just to remain operational each day. While I’m mindlessly scrolling and writing and lounging and running, my body is just doing its thing and making it all possible. Your heart’s just in there right now pumping 5 quarts of blood through the entirety of your body every minute like it very casually does all the time.

Everyone looked at their phones as we sat, even the nurses which made me think it was probably what we would be doing in any other circumstance. The woman coordinating the volunteers was around my age and almost full-term with her second child. She looked up from her phone to announce another earthquake in Mexico was reported moments ago, following the devastating 8.2 magnitude Chiapas earthquake just the week before. An aftershock. We all remained quiet. It’s hard enough to process natural disaster when you’re contained within your body, it becomes harder still when you’re certain you’ll feel the rise in your pressure.

The hemoglobin nurse was the first to break, “That’s why I tell my children ‘you know what’s happening’ and they say, ‘but we’re not ready.’ We’re never going to be ready.”

“You want to talk about ready? I’m trying to introduce a new child into this world right now,” clapped back my preggo peer without missing a beat.

At that moment, the expression on my face must have betrayed me because they looked at me and asked if I was okay. I wanted to tell them this talk about finality made me want to call my parents. Instead I thought, I can contain myself long enough to help someone live in a world that’s ending. So, I nodded and took a sip of the cranberry juice handed to me. After 15 minutes scrolling Instagram, I was done. The nurse returned to my side to remove the needle and apply a band-aid. We received free movie ticket vouchers as a gift. My friend and I left. She seemed largely unfazed by the whole experience.

I was privately proud and changed.

Since then, I’ve regularly received postcards and texts from OneBlood notifying me when and where their local drives are being held. I also learned I’m O+ in blood type which I thought was the rarest one and made me feel really cool. A quick Google search revealed I was wrong. O- is the rarest blood type. I had O+, the most common. I was a commoner. 

Another search later, I learned that although I can only receive O+ or O- transfusions, O+ blood can be transfused to any positive blood type. My imagination ran from commoner to public servant. I was briefly pleased again.

I’ve decided to follow the example of my former roommate and donate once a year. Maybe twice if I feel like a hero or really want to go to the movies. I’m headed to honor my commitment by visiting a OneBlood bus this morning. I drank enough water, charged my phone, and prayed all natural disasters would wait until the afternoon. I think that should cover it.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

In the five minutes you’ve taken to read this, 600 people have required a blood transfusion. That’s one every 2 seconds, or 21 million each year. Researchers are trying to manufacture blood and platelets but they’ve not been successful. Still, only 10% of the eligible population donates blood every year.

From Carrie Bradshaw to Content Mill Martha… Looking Back at a Life Online

Let’s talk about the internet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the evolution it’s had as someone whose work in recent years has been measured by pageviews and social analytics.

In June 2015, I left an entry-level role at one of my favorite organizations to pursue a career in media. My jobs in the non-profit world up to this point had varying communications tasks to them and having filled twenty journals with personal words over the span of ten years, I had very romantic ideas about what a career as a writer or editor would actually mean.

By December, I was hired at a media start-up in New York City to work as an Assistant Managing Editor. This start-up did little to shake my fanciful notions because it was led by peers with similar delusions. We weren’t just publishing, we were “democratizing content.” I didn’t know it at the time but I was being indoctrinated into a kool-aid-drinking culture and everyone was in deep. Odyssey rented offices in WeWork buildings across Manhattan where each floor had free beer on taps you could help yourself to at leisure, employees were given shiny new MacBook Pros and yes—the ping-pong tables annoyed anyone trying to work within a 50-foot range of them.

I can still remember when a colleague came into work in overalls and a crop top underneath because it was such a departure from the buttoned-up environments I’d known. I walked into the lobby of the WeWork NoMad building one Monday morning to find a complimentary Bloody Mary bar and that was probably a bit much. Ja Rule rented an office a floor below us where he was organizing the failed Fyre Festival. I once sat in a conference room for five minutes listening to the man’s laugh echo in the hallway because it sounded exactly like his intro in “Mesmerize” and my Ashanti-CD-loving-middle-school-self needed a moment.

Within a week of starting, I was flown out to headquarters in Indiana along with another 20 or so newbies to attend their yearly off-site strategy meeting that had a buzzy name like “Breakers” or “Regenerate.” Staff was required to organize into cross-departmental teams and come up with solutions for company-wide challenges. Everything was expensed, our days were 12-hours long, and I recall bathroom breaks being seen as inconveniences. The trip ended with a Christmas party hosted in a warehouse with an open-bar and gourmet food. It was indulgent and I was sitting down for a full-course meal. I realize now this entire experience was an unusually flashy introduction to the industry, particularly at my pay grade. And this was months before any of us would see our logo carved into ice at a company cocktail party.

I now look back and think about how unique this time in my life was. It’s one that I treasure the most because it taught me how to work harder than I ever have before and it cut my teeth in a management position. I also met and worked among brilliant people who continue to inspire me through their work at the Washington Post, the Philly Inquirer, CNN, Bustle, VICE, and Condé Nast. The shame is so few of these individuals were given the means to run with their editorial expertise at Odyssey because we were a content farm.

Over and over again, leadership stressed quantity over quality. The metrics we were held to as editors pushed conversations about quality (and diversity for that matter) into the margins, turning them into pet-projects taken on by small groups. Securing Odyssey’s credibility was an aspiration gripped on to by those in the company who wouldn’t shut up about it, myself included. But none of it mattered much as long as the content mill kept working.

In the Spring of 2016 that changed for Odyssey when Facebook, our primary source of distribution, buried our links. Their algorithm changed to prioritize organic user-created content over publishers. It didn’t matter how much we produced, posted or tweeted, pageviews dove and they never recovered. Once the lights turned off on our audience, revenue dried, the bubble burst. I resigned that summer before things got to their worst. Editors were laid off in droves in the months following. It was awful but as we’ve seen in news announcing the cuts made at Buzzfeed this month, the layoffs at Mic, the layoffs at Time, and recent cuts at The Outline–it was not unusual.

Since leaving Odyssey, I’ve freelanced, worked briefly for a print magazine that covered faith by marketing its cultural relevance and taken on minor client projects. Most recently I worked full-time as a Managing Editor publishing three B2B magazines covering the print industry.

Following a promotion and thousands of miles on the road as a vendor, my career was upended when the company was purchased by a new publisher. Our team was downsized and I was offered to stay on as a contractor if I was willing to absorb the responsibilities of two jobs outside of my own. I declined and although it took me a month to find peace with my decision, I was relieved. It has taken too long for me to admit the last three years have made me Tired. Between Trump’s election turning the internet into a slimy soundbyte-slinging playground, the audience monopolies social media platforms have over publishers and the words “pivot to video,” these years have felt more like twenty.

After my departure from the whole full-time with benefits thing, I freaked. Then I wondered if I should have settled for burnt-out and underpaid.

Finally, I slept. A lot.

And read books like, real books and I repainted the front door, and sent mail to distant friends, and began cooking again for the first time in years between feeling bad about luxuriating over Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook and grocery lists in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon.

Although this isn’t sustainable, I’m finally allowing myself to enjoy it. I am not going anywhere and just the same, work will be there waiting when I get back but I’ve decided that whatever I take on next has to be fully my own. I’ve effectively stopped emailing and doing and editing long enough to dream about what I actually want to do again, a privilege I don’t take for granted.

It seems what I enjoy doing most at the moment is writing. So, I think between attempting Teigen’s Thai Pork and Rice Porridge and reorganizing the closet–I’ll do that.

A Case for Brave Compassion

I went to church last night for the first time in a few weeks and was introduced to Pastor Cole NeSmith’s definition of brave compassion. During service, NeSmith outlined this concept as what can be described as a major inconvenience that holds the power to be transformational within our lives and the communities we serve, if chosen into.

According to his notes, brave compassion is a willingness to enter the stories and brokenness of others with the intention to connect authentically with God and those He has placed within our social networks and our communities. In order for brave compassion to be demonstrated in pure service of the other, it has to withhold any agenda.

NeSmith plainly presented the costs embracing this concept requires and they are not few. Stepping into other people’s stories disturbs one’s emotions, comforts, encroaches on boundaries, diminishes energy, and pulls from one’s reserves emotionally or otherwise. Anyone who has sat at Thanksgiving dinner with their extended family in recent years might attest.

Yet, the alternative to brave compassion is one of atrophy. NeSmith identified this choice as one that sweeps conflict under the rug, permits infighting, and maintains the status quo, denying connection or light to exist in the very places that pain and constrain.

My own acquaintance with this path stirs up regret I have towards an event several years ago when my youth was more closely mirrored by my foolishness than it is now. A few friends made choices that could summarily be defined as messy. Instead of meeting them with the love they had grown to know within our relationship, I met them with judgement because I was scared. I was scared by what their actions meant in the context of my own relationships with them as individuals which was selfish, I resented the lack of control over my life (which their actions highlighted) and instead of responding to the situation with a modicum of compassion, I was scathing.

A lot of context within the Christian community lends itself to the idea of compassion until we are scared.

We see this at a macro-level when the LGBTQ+ community is consistently left out of conversations regarding their own agency and acceptance within church community. We see it when the topic of refugees and immigrants is brought up among American Evangelicals. And the Church experiences this gap between what we profess and the compassion we actively withhold at a micro-level among relationships that fester and rot.

I find that when I am most disappointed in a relationship or in the behavior of another person that I regard as a brother or sister, I am met by the tremendous challenge of swallowing my resentment, my pride, my victimhood, and removing the self-serving barriers that keep me justified in my upset.

Brave compassion challenges us to forego every form of hostility, from subtle pricks of pettiness to greater injury, and professing Christ means accepting the responsibility of loving others in the face of their mistakes, as well as our own. If brave compassion is to work as it is designed, we have to hold ourselves accountable to growth, relinquishing our personal brand of hot mess by pursuing health and transparency, while (and this is the kicker) remaining committed to the hope for such in others. None of this is easy, but it’s especially difficult when the harm is measurable. So, where do we begin?

Maya Angelou is quoted to have said that the very essence of being human is understanding “I am capable of what every other human is capable of. This is one of the great lessons of war and life.” I’ve lived enough stories to know such is true. We are capable of healing and we are capable of burning. We are capable of loving and we are capable of murder in our hearts when we allow them to become homes for hate. Brave compassion requires us to belong to one another, accountability allows us to do so faithfully.

At a time when I was walking through quite a bit of confusion in my life, I had an olive branch tattooed on my arm to remind me that grace and growth are always worth surrendering to. It also served to cover a shittier tattoo which you can still see the outline of underneath. I had the first one done in haste and the result was never what I imagined conceptually. Isn’t life that way? We go in expecting one thing and years later, it still hasn’t matched the picture we drew in our imaginations. It’s become a useful metaphor to remember that when things are ugly, we have everything we need to write a new story. The process hurts, time will slow, we bleed but when we demonstrate brave compassion to ourselves and others, we are left with hope extended.

When Does Good Friday Become Good?

 

Ophelia Pang, Flying at Night

Good Friday is around the corner once again and one of the most poignant reads on such remains Jen Hatmaker’s blog entry, published April of last year.

If you’re unfamiliar with her work, Jen Hatmaker is a Christian author who has published twelve books. Like her, I grew up in youth group culture but I made a hard exit from the evangelical bubble around 2014 when my faith became some relic I carried around from childhood but could never bring myself to dispose of. Instead, it was thrown in the back of the closet to collect dust as if it was something to be embarrassed about among my peers in New York City.

In 2016, I moved back to Florida, returned to the foundational tenets of my faith, and began working at a Christian magazine which was an effective whiplash of sorts that I am still processing and will write about at length someday, but not yet.

I became familiar with Hatmaker’s work during my time as a Managing Editor at the magazine when she was interviewed by Religion News Service and asked point blank whether she would attend the marriage ceremony between a same-sex couple. Hatmaker replied, “any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love,” confirming that she would indeed celebrate that friend (and by extension, their love with a partner of the same-sex) with her attendance at their wedding.

I wish you couldn’t guess what happened next but something tells me, if you’ve been in proximity to a Christian™ at any point in your life, you already know.

LifeWay Christian Stores, a Southern Baptist chain and distributor of faith-based resources, pulled her books from their shelves citing Hatmaker’s statements, “contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines.” A 12-city faith-based conference tour Hatmaker was scheduled to headline was canceled before it even began with little explanation.

Up until this point in her life, Hatmaker was an evangelical darling. Texan. Quick-witted. Unassuming. She even hosted a renovation show on HGTV with her famliy, just like Evangelical America’s beloved Gaines couple. The backlash she experienced as a result of her comments was so swift it made news, garnering the attention of The Washington Post and The Atlantic.

Imagine.

Between all of the noise, the Christian machine and those oiling it forgot there was a human being, just being human, caught in the crosshair of theological contention. The shame of it all is how often this happens. If a Christian leader isn’t faltering under the pressure to be perfect by siphoning their weaknesses into addictions or affairs, evangelicals are taking out leaders at the first sign of their humanity. Is the God of the universe really threatened by such?

Forget the thousands of words of wisdom Hatmaker had offered to men and women alike throughout her years. Forget the freedom her vulnerability in turn gifted to the many who counted themselves beyond the reach of the church, and tragically, beyond the reach of Jesus, as a result of their sexual orientation, culture, upbringing, race, or opinions. What do Christians communicate about Jesus when they reject those who vary from the mold they’ve deemed permissible?

Hatmaker spoke in reflection of this experience in parallel to Good Friday, eloquently writing about the wreckage she was subject to as she observed the wreckage marked by Christ’s crucifixion over 2,000 years ago.

This year, I deeply experienced being on the wrong side of religion, and it was soul-crushing. I suffered the rejection, the fury, the distancing, the punishment, and sometimes worst of all, the silence. I experienced betrayal from people I thought loved us. I felt the cold winds of disapproval and the devastating sting of gossip.

Hatmaker goes on,

The Christian Machine malfunctioned, and we are all still staring at each other, trying our damnedest to figure out how we understand the gospel so differently, unsure if we will ever find our way back to each other. The Christian community has been maligned, mocked, dragged, and dissected publicly, our civil war evident to a watching world. We are a meme. It is truly awful.

I returned to the church sometime last September. Dusted off my faith, remembered the heartbeat of this relic I once treasured above all else, and reconciled my heart and soul to reacquaint with Jesus, the savior I knew and loved. Know and love. As I experienced this deeply personal reintegration into Christianity, I was hit by the arrows of Christians who, to this day, have not reconciled their actions to the words of Christ. I experienced a long, drawn-out fall-out in a personal relationship, absorbing words that remain the cruelest I’ve ever been subject to in response to every rejected attempt to reconcile or heal. But I had fallen out of step, out of line, out of the permitted territories–and that was enough to be written off. I didn’t lose a conference tour, I didn’t lose revenue sales, I didn’t face disgrace or a tar-and-feathering in the public evangelical arena.

I only experienced it from an old friend in a private and disparaging exchange of emails.

I only witnessed it in the actions of a boss, in every meeting I heard him speak with disdain about any Christian leader that didn’t have the esteem and prestige he endlessly sought.

The irony of Good Friday is it commemorates a death. Christ was crucified. The religious authority of his day seemed to have won the last word on his merit, his value as a prisoner who, in their eyes, deserved the death of a dog, forgotten beyond the city gates. I consider those hours between his death and his resurrection and wonder how futile hope seemed to those who once believed.

Although the deaths I am still mourning in my own life do not compare to the bodycount Hatmaker was abandoned to burn by herself over the last year, I can understand it and reel from the knowledge of it. You can’t separate your faith from your disappointment towards the same community of faith that you belong to when you’ve been hit with enough stinging arrows. Those arrows become a part of you.

And still, towards the One who infuriated the religious leaders of his day, the One who was first rejected and maimed, they extend.

In the Midst of Loss, We Belong Only to Each Other

You know those particularly rotten, no-good weeks that feel like a personal affront? I had one recently.

I felt so unlucky I thought it was the ladder I almost walked under last month, except I made a point to step right around it. I’m not superstitious but I don’t make a habit of tempting fate.

I went out in Downtown Orlando for all of 40 minutes on my birthday and had my phone stolen out of my back pocket without my noticing until I got home. A few days later, I received a text notifying me my phone had been found. I was distracted and in the middle of a long workday so without giving it much thought, I signed into a page identical to Apple’s which turned out to be a phishing scam the thieves used to disconnect the iPhone from my account, presumably wiping it clean to resell. If you lose your phone and receive a similar text message… don’t be me.

This is more common than I knew. Some users online have said they’ve even been locked out of their own accounts. Once they have your security details, they can wipe your other devices, lock those, or steal a virtual identity that in today’s era can be attached to your bank accounts, your most personal photos, and literally anything else you might throw on the Cloud. They may even be able to see your location. After I realized what happened, I fell victim to a lot of fear. Having someone steal something out of my back pocket and solicit my log-in credentials made me feel like my security is an illusion ready to be violated at any moment.

I retreated into my bed and turned into a burrito of sadness for the rest of the day.

Around the same time, a few Facebook acquaintances were circulating a GoFundMe page for a young man who had been in a severe motorcycle accident and landed in the hospital in a coma. Tonight, I saw one of them post a memorial tribute to the same young man. As I tried to figure out who this person was, what their life was like, who they belonged to, and considered his family’s unimaginable grief, I ended up on the profile of his girlfriend who couldn’t be older than 19.

I thought of my own tender heart at this age—as well as a friend who lost her high school boyfriend around the same time, carrying his memory with her twelve years later—and began praying.

There’s the loss of an iPhone, or your red 1970’s Schwinn road bike (Penelope Cruise), but then there’s a particular kind of loss that is so ravaging and sudden, it is the unseen swell of a wave that knocks you off your feet, sending you spinning underwater. There are seasons of life that are months, sometimes years, of thrashing and longing for the relief of surface air. There are seasons of life that only hold memories of when the world was upright and sun-soaked.

I am not in that space now but once you know this sort of loss, you join a club no one wants entrance into.

There’s a writer I respect who recently shared the struggles she’s faced with suicidal thoughts over the course of her very young life. I thought of our relationship and the witty, independent thinker I’d gotten to know through Twitter and a handful of professional interactions. Her frank and sincere voice refreshing amidst the self-promotion and nihilism many internet circles are characterized by. I read her admission and felt ashamed because it illuminated how much I assumed I knew about her life, her story, through the bits she had chosen to share of herself online.

The loss of my phone has been forgotten, but it’s unoriginal and hollow to use the pain of others to put our own into perspective. I’m in a season of life where things are breezy and good. But I remember too newly when they weren’t.

If you’re in a season of lack, of want, of thrashing and if your lungs are held because you can’t bear to swallow sorrow all over again—it does end. The spinning eventually stops and you’ll taste air anew. Those that have made it to shore are waiting for you to return and tell us about the swells you’ve survived. I’ll show you my scratches, we’ll throw shells into the ocean as we count our blessings again, and most of all, we’ll breathe deep.

“… And here am I, budding
among the ruins
with only sorrow to bite on,
as if weeping were a seed and I
the earth’s only furrow.”

–Pablo Neruda, “Lightless Suburb”

Becoming Human Again

My name is Rebecca and I am a perfectionist.

Before finally admitting this to myself, I judged people who made this brand of declarative statement. Maybe I’ve only ever heard it said as an afterthought—tacked on as an excuse for an uninvited suggestion to improve something. I usually just kind of rolled my eyes.

After all, isn’t calling yourself a perfectionist is the equivalent of saying you’re too committed to your work when asked what your weaknesses are in a job interview?

I didn’t imagine it was the fear of failing (or worst yet, the fear of being rather unremarkable) that kept me spinning wheels around my intentions until I realized it was the source of my procrastination. As a young professional, I operate in extremes. I’m either overly committed, too scared to stop moving lest all the plates I’m spinning come crashing down, or I’m coasting and putting off my creative pursuits in exchange for indulgent comforts.

As the rest of the world ushered in 2018 with excitement and gusto, I was too aware of how uninvested I was in my work. I felt listless and longing to be challenged again. Two weeks into 2018, my boss took another job that guaranteed less travel, the publisher offered me her role and I went from what was a glorified data-entry position to managing two B2B publications in print and digital. This new role requires me to travel to trade shows across the country (and occasionally, globally) approximately every 6 weeks. I was home for all of ten days in February which was a worthy induction to the insanity that the publishing industry is usually characterized by.

And I absolutely love it.

The job demands more planning than I’ve ever had to account for but I’m delighted to work directly with contributors, pay them fairly, and elevate these publications with fresh voices.

My excitement aside, the work is a behemoth. Yet, the challenges that stretch my limits, for better or worse, engage me most. When I’m under-engaged, I’m bored, and that usually means I stumble into some sort of trouble. (We can talk more about that as we get to know one another.) Lately, I’ve been grieved by how few of my life’s moments I’ve absorbed in the present or counted as goals achieved. They do count, as they’re passing I guess, but just as quickly as they’re checked off the list, I move on to the next seemingly impossible rung. You’ve likely figured out that I need to work on balance.

I finally got around to hanging up picture frames in my room over the last few weeks and I created a gallery wall that I refer to as my dream wall to no one except myself because it’s terrible branding.

In the center, there’s an old photo of a bridge that looks like somewhere in Eastern Europe. I bought the framed picture at a market that appeared each Sunday in a playground adjacent to the church I attended in Brooklyn and it cost $10. It remains a mystery where the photograph was taken but one of my new dreams is to find that bridge and see it in person.

In clockwise order around my mystery bridge hangs a photo I took from the Top of the Rock in New York City overlooking Central Park, a photo I took of a street in Havana as a vintage car zipped by, a sweet reminder that I completed a marathon once, a framed postcard featuring the Eiffel Tower, a memory from the time I was introduced to a white horse named Titan in Puerto Rico, my favorite photo of a pier in the Netherlands from what used to be a commercial fishing town and finally, a photo of my boyfriend and I. Each of these images represent something especially meaningful to me, whether they’re things I once dreamed of (like the face of the man I’d eventually fall in love with), or places I still long to be.

Whatever that drive is in me that pangs to fulfill the terrifying dreams that I long for in the middle of the night between wakefulness and sleep when the world is quiet and undemanding has cost me a lot of pain in private, even the achievements and accolades.

I neglect acknowledging any gains I make towards my dreams because as I reach them, the finish line just gets further. Do you know what I mean? And if I fall short, I take failures as final. It takes me years to shake them off and find peace again because I haven’t quite internalized the idea that this bag of skin and bones isn’t defined by failures or triumphs. It’s just the home that lets me travel through this world, loving, growing, falling, trying, breathing, being. I’m trying to live like I believe it.

I’m ready to talk about my failures again, which I think is necessary to be an honest writer.

This all brings me once again to this new job.

I received a copy of the magazine I’ve been working on the last few weeks today. This work consisted of editing over 20,000 words in three weeks, on-boarding the person that took on my role, traveling, and surviving the flu. Yet, when I read through the printed copy, all I could see were the two typos I missed in my own words.

Cosmically, I imagined God laughing.

I framed the editorial as a signpost to remind me not to take myself so seriously. Aren’t the mistakes what make us human? And that’s what keeps me writing—this conviction that amidst our differences, we are all deeply, irrevocably, purely, and remarkably human. The common experiences, the shame and the victories, as well as the deeply ordinary, are worth sharing. Even with a typo or two.